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Gear: Mixer Overview

DJ Mixers and Midi Controllers

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A DJ mixer is the versatile middle console that DJ's use. It is the brain of the entire system and without the development of a mixing console; DJ'ing and mixing would not have become what it is today. There is a dynamic number of DJ mixers, including midi controllers, traditional mixers, computers or other electronic devices.

Everything will be plugged into and out of the mixer. All input  and output gear, including headphones, music players and speakers are all connected to the mixer. The mixer is a central network where the audio can flow and be assigned to different paths.

It allows you to:


  • Mix audio together. An route the input signals(music) to the output paths (speakers)
  • Cue the next song to be played before the crowd hears it.
  • Send music to your headphones and chose what you want to hear.


Most controls can be easily recognized between different mixers and most skills can be transferred across the alternate types of mixing consoles as we will summarize below.


The underlying principles of a DJ mixer include:


  • The ability to hear and assign the next song through the headphones and control aspects like volume and channel selection, for a process called cue’ing.
  • The functionality of being able to blend and also cross-fade multiple sources of music
  • Equalization section to alter aspects of the musical frequencies
  • Act as an input device by accepting many different signals from turntables, microphones and other audio devices.
  • Output stereo signals to a speakers or amplifiers
  • Monitor the volume of the audio signals


Other optional functions can include:

  • An internal effects unit for adding effects to the sound
  • An auxiliary send function to send and return the signal to an external effects unit or processor.
  • recording functions to record your DJ sets
  • Balance Knobs to control the amount of signal to the left and right speaker respectively, used for panning effect.
  • Extra effects and functionality over equalization
  • Cross fade curve control for different mixing techniques and scratching


Other Mixers

The main purpose of the the mixer is to mix sources of audio together, as the name would suggest.

Bigger format recording console that are used in music studios, have many more input and output channels as a means to record many instruments and microphones together as opposed to just 2- channels for a couple of music sources. The only thing that they generally don't have is a cross fader.   I see a move for DJ mixers to have more channels in the future and the lines will start to blur between traditional DJ mixers and Big format consoles with more complex outputs and more flexibility on the imputs